Economic Effects of Runs on Early 'Shadow Banks': Trust Companies and the Impact of the Panic of 1907

Carola Frydman, Eric Hilt, Lily Y. Zhou

NBER Working Paper No. 18264
Issued in July 2012
NBER Program(s):   CF   DAE   ME

We use the unique circumstances that led to the Panic of 1907 to analyze its consequences for non-financial corporations. The onset of the panic occurred following a series of scandalous revelations about the investments of prominent financiers, which triggered widespread runs on trust companies associated with those men. Using newly collected data, we find that corporations with close ties to the trust companies that faced severe runs experienced an immediate decline in their stock price, and performed worse in the years following the panic: they earned fewer profits and paid fewer dividends, and faced higher interest rates on their debt. Consistent with the notion that information asymmetries aggravated the consequences of the contraction of credit intermediation, these effects were largest for smaller firms and for industrials, whose collateral was more difficult to value than that of railroads.

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